Lights out for French businesses every night

Businesses obliged to switch off illuminated signs, advertising and window displays between 1am and 6am

It has been six years in the making - but since the beginning of this month, all businesses across France have been obliged by law to turn off illuminated signs, advertising and window displays between the hours of 1am and 6am.

Some 3.5million businesses and non-residential buildings across the country that had previously been able to leave signs illuminated all night now must turn them off, to the delight of the Association nationale pour la protection du ciel et de l'environnement nocturnes, an organisation dedicated to "preserving the night".

Illuminated advertising hoardings are included in the law - but France's 11 million street lights are exempted, though some smaller towns and villages have already taken the decision to switch off their street lights overnight.

There are 89% more light points - such as business signs and street lights - in France since the 1990s, the association told news website franceinfo. A spokesman added: "The multiplication of artificial lights at night is at the origin of biological and behavioural disturbances that can disrupt the functioning of ecosystems and fragment environments."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition said that turning off the lights will save approximated 1000 GWh per year - enough to power more than 370,000 households.

The decree ordering the turning off of lights in non-residential buildings overnight for environmental reasons was published on January 25, 2013.

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